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Dietary intake, leisure time activities and obesity among adolescents in Western Sweden: a cross-sectional study

Journal article
Authors Anna Winkvist
Bodil Hultén
Jeong-Lim Kim
I. Johansson
Kjell Torén
Jonas Brisman
Helene Berteus Forslund
Published in Nutrition Journal
Volume 15
Issue 41
ISSN 1475-2891
Publication year 2016
Published at Institute of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Section of Occupational and environmental medicine
Institute of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Nutrition
Language en
Keywords Diet, Obesity, Adolescents, Physical activity, Sweden, Cross-sectional study, doubly labeled water, northern sweden, physical-activity, international, survey, swedish adolescents, energy-intake, children, overweight, prevalence, trends, Nutrition & Dietetics
Subject categories Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology, Environmental Health and Occupational Health


Background: Overweight and obesity among adolescents are increasing worldwide. Risk factors include dietary intake characteristics and high levels of physical inactivity. In Sweden, few large comprehensive population-based surveys of dietary intake and lifestyle among adolescents have been carried out. Thus, the purpose of the current study was to describe dietary intake and food choices as well as leisure time activities in relation to overweight and obesity in a total sample of all schoolchildren aged 15 years in Western Sweden. Methods: In 2008, a questionnaire was sent to all 21,651 adolescents born in 1992 in Vastra Gotaland Region, Sweden. Participation rate was 54.3 % (50.7 % girls/49.3 % boys). The questionnaire included a 73-item semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire and questions on lifestyle. Results were evaluated against the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations and Swedish indicators of healthy diet and exercise habits. Associations with concurrent overweight and obesity were evaluated in multiple linear regression analysis. Results: Among girls, 49.5 % reached the goal of consuming fruit and vegetables at least daily, whereas for boys the figure was 34.4 %. Among both sexes, 15 % reached the goal of consuming fish at least twice weekly. Two-thirds of both sexes reached the goal of regular moderate or vigorous physical activity weekly. In total, 12.4 % were overweight and 2.4 % were obese. More girls than boys were underweight, whereas more boys than girls were overweight or obese (p < 0.001). Boys exhibited a more frequent intake of sodas and concentrated fruit juices, milk 3 % fat, bread and potatoes and fast food (p < 0.001). Frequent intake of candies and chocolate was reported by both sexes. Among girls and boys, living in rural areas, living in apartments and reporting no frequent leisure time physical activity were significant risk factors for being overweight or obese, also when adjusted for other risk factors. Conclusions: Dietary habits of adolescents in Western Sweden warrant improvements. Public health actions should be taken to increase consumption of fruit, vegetables and fish, and decrease consumption of sodas and candies and also to increase frequency of physical activity. These actions may be helpful in reducing risks for overweight and obesity.

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